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Apr 4, 2017

Jason didn’t impress Marcus from the outset of his initial job interview, but Marcus gave him a chance because he came from a trusted reference. Despite his initial reservations, within a month, Marcus found himself relying more and more on Jason’s performance at work.

Marcus believed Jason had the proper skills to be groomed for higher positions and became fixated on finding ways to see him to the height of his career. As Jason became more experienced and confident in his skills, Marcus could see that flicker in his eye to move up into bigger and better roles.

In spite of Jason’s short tenure, his pursuit of career growth is not uncommon. But many employees are either unprepared to face the review processes that precede their next big career move, or find the reviews cumbersome and not especially helpful, so they leave their organization in hopes of a better experience elsewhere.

In fact, Gallup’s 2016 “State of the American Workplace” study revealed 35% of employees report changing jobs within the last three years. Moreover, only 33% report being fully engaged. Marcus knew he’d have to make a serious effort to keep Jason on the right path so he would stay with the company, instead of looking elsewhere.

Here are four stages of “interviews” that take place over the life-cycle of an employee and how they should be handled to ensure employees stay engaged.

1. Performance: Approach reviews like a conversation.

The perception of employee performance reviews has been drastically shifting in recent years. In fact, the 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte found 58% of companies surveyed say performance reviews are not an effective use of time at all.

In order to add value to the review process, use a more interactive method of communication. Rather than simply reviewing performance, approach this conversation as an interview, but turn the tables a bit.

Encourage employees to schedule performance reviews when they will make the biggest impact on their workflow: while working on a big project, when setting goals for each month, or even just a regular one-on-one meeting they can look forward to for ongoing feedback.

Suggest they prepare questions and even self-assessments prior to the review. Instead of stepping into a manager’s office expecting to be scrutinized, employees can ask for specific suggestions on how to improve productivity on current tasks, prepare a working plan for upcoming projects, and check in to see if their assessment of their own productivity aligns with their supervisor’s.

2. Succession: Focus on upward progress

Employees often become stagnant or comfortable in roles they perform well in and are not going to necessarily recognize advancement opportunities. While there should always be an open door for employees to discuss career objectives, it’s important for managers to conduct career conversations. Great managers should double as internal talent scouts.

When you see an employee take on more leadership roles in team projects or take the initiative to mentor a co-worker who is struggling, approach them to discuss how they see these skills positioning them for promotion.

If an employee is outgrowing their role, revisit their expectations from their initial interview; have a list of their increasing skills and responsibilities and be prepared to discuss what new positions they might be ready for.

Reviews at this level focus on the employee’s career interests and their readiness for promotion. It’s unwise to throw them into a higher position if they will be unhappy or feel unprepared for it.

If there is another department they would be suited to move into, have a conversation about their career path and offer recommendations.

3. Development: Continuous development and new skills

One reason employees leave a company is because the job doesn’t fit their skill set. In fact, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace study stated 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job. “Job fit” was one of six listed reasons for the departure.

Conduct “stay” interviews to learn what they enjoy about their job and discuss their development and interest in mobility. A great way to get employees engaged with ongoing development is to encourage them to contribute to it. Rather than mandating which courses and certifications are the next step in their progression, discuss which skills they feel are best suited for their particular roles.

Have your team compile a list of development courses they find most valuable and interesting, or even have them create a library of video training courses everyone can access. In order to teach a co-worker a new application or process, they will need to apply themselves to truly learn it.

The investment of their time and the value of their newly acquired skills will take professional development to a new level.

4. Transition: Exit interviews to improve everything

There comes a time in every employee’s career when they decide to leave a company. Conducting exit interviews not only enable everyone to part ways on good terms, but can also be an effective way to take stock of the overall workplace environment.

In a study by Quantum Workplace titled “State of the Employee Feedback,” it was discovered 60.5% of companies perform exit interviews. They also found highly engaged companies were twice as likely to analyze turnover data and employment engagement results to see if there is a linkage.

Understanding why an employee chooses to leave the company is valuable to the success of an organization. The insights can be used to improve interviewing, hiring, and management processes. It also shows employees that you value their feedback.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding an employee’s departure, they may not feel comfortable having a face-to-face interview to discuss what could have prevented their decision. In those cases, a survey may yield better results.

Keep them short and considerate. Also, encourage the rest of the team to complete a similar survey when a co-worker leaves so you can compare responses and determine how to improve retention.

In short, a candidate’s initial job interview is only the beginning. As the new employee moves through their career, there will be more interviews each time they’re ready to take the next step. Managers would do well to make sure they’re prepared for each phase of that journey and evolve the interview processes to match the growth of each employee.

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